I moved to Israel from the US right after the Yom Kippur war while the country was still reeling from the impact. In Tel Aviv the waiter laughed at me when I asked for an omelet (all the eggs were still being sent to the soldiers on the fronts) and most of the guys my age were still called up in the reserves. I was 19 years old, and had just finished a gap-year in Israel. I came back because – hello – how could I even consider staying in the States, when Israel needed me?!
I have since lived through numerous wars here. Some of them were distant, affecting only the northern borders; others had Israelis coming HERE, to a kibbutz on the border with the Gaza Strip to take refuge, (because during the Gulf War, when Tel Aviv was being bombarded with scud missiles, this was a relatively safe region). During the last three, the wars were literally in my back (and front) yards. My little kibbutz house was mid-battlefield; rockets fell meters away and mortar-shrapnel sprayed my walls (INSIDE, as well as out) .
When there’s a war, everyone wants to help. People open their homes to you. They drive for miles to shop in stores in vulnerable areas to support the shopkeepers. They send you messages of encouragement. People come together during wars.
So maybe what we need here now, is another war. We’re practically there already — with all the stabbings and stonings and rammings. The constant fear and suspicion is destroying everyone’s soul. Jews are afraid to cross paths with an Arab-looking person, for fear that they will suddenly pull out a knife. Arabs are frightened to travel outside of their neighborhoods, worried that a paranoid Jew will call the security forces, resulting in humiliation, preventing them from working, possibly even incurring bodily harm. Or worse. This morning’s “joke” being shared in WhatsApp messages is a photo of a dark-skinned man, wearing a tee-shirt on which is written in Hebrew “Please calm down, I’m Yemenite”. Then I hear the plight of the blonde woman, born in an English-speaking country, married to a Christian Arab. She works in a store in a Jewish town, but is afraid to drive home to her Arab city because her car keeps getting stoned by residents of her city who mistake her for a Jew.
Maybe a war could fix this.
But not one that has Israelis fighting Arabs. Maybe we need a war that will bring us together. Maybe we need Martians to invade the planet. Then all earthlings would join hands as comrades fighting the common enemy: the little green men (with or without antennae) who have come to take over our planet. Or an environmental disaster that doesn’t differentiate between races or religions – it simply hits everyone in the area, and hits hard.
Or maybe we can find a way to eek out our many commonalities, which are far more than our differences. We might try respecting each other’s rights to exist WITHOUT needing to undergo such extreme traumas threatening the very existence of human life on earth. Maybe if we all agreed to sit back for one moment, PRETEND that all that was happening, we could dig down deep within ourselves and find the ability to respect each other’s rights to exist as fellow and sister human beings.
Sounds dumb, right? Childish, perhaps?
So does this entire senseless conflict, in which we are currently drowning.